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Category: Flowers and Plants

Annual, perennial and interesting flowers with advice on culture, information, tips and recommended varieties

Being Rooted and Rooting for the Planet

Being Rooted and Rooting for the Planet

My roots are in the north of England but I enjoy an occasional trip down to ‘the smoke’ as London used to be called. Fortunately there is far less smoke than 50+ years ago but the same can’t be said for air pollution nor particulates around major roads. We walked from Kings Cross along Euston Road to the Wellcome Collection and the ‘rooted beings’ exhibition. Breathing in the fumes caused some coughing and spluttering on the way so subsequently we walked through back streets seeing another side of London. Whilst the air was not as fresh as Ilkley Moor it was OK particularly when we stopped in Russel Square garden.

About Rooted Being Exhibition Free until 29th August 2022

  • ‘Plants sustain life on earth. They are sensitive, complex and interconnected beings, playing surprisingly active roles in ecosystems and human societies’
  • ‘The exhibition reimagines our relationship with plants and fungi, exploring what we can learn from plant behaviour and how we can rethink the significance of plants beyond simply resources for human consumption. The curatorial team have brought together works from the Wellcome Collection’s archive of botanical illustrations with artists’ commissions to form an open-ended narrative about vegetal life in the context of the climate crisis, from the perspective of environmental and social justice’. Anna Souter
  • In addition to the Wellcome Trusts usual medical information the  contemporary ‘rooted’ project in the main gallery includes art work,  botanical illustrations, a fifth century Papyrus and a 19th-century study of fungi.
  • Mandrake, Brugsmania and hallucinogenic plants are covered in a free brochure about the work of Patricia Dominguez
  • Two of my favourite exhibits included a large wrack sculpture and lobster pots filled with construction and plastic waste.
  • Not a massive exhibition but  the subject is dwarfed by hidden meanings notably a holistic view about plants and the consequences of human interaction with the natural world.


Not Making Gardens Anymore

Not Making Gardens Anymore

It is a sad fact that the British hobby of garden-making is in decline. That is partially due to social changes and more importantly there being no new land for gardens.

Scarce Resource

  • Land is a scarce resource and what the suitable land is required for a multiplicity of other uses.
  • Concrete jungles are preventing the sensible development of gardens other than for displaying onroof top gardens, patios or other man made efforts.
  • The Dutch have developed plant growing to a fine art utilising land reclamation whilst our East Coast is eroded and some gardens fall into the North Sea.

Social Expectation and Change

  • Our UK population continues to grow, even though there is a blossoming interest in ecology and the environment, such growth is not noticeably translating into new gardens.
  • There are fewer new parks and gardens in public ownership (unless you count skate parks and playgrounds). At least not in proportion to population growth.
  • Living accommodation has changed in several ways with many more retirement villages, apartments and single occupation homes. Land  is being converted in to a concrete jungle that will not return to a garden opportunity for many life times.
  • There are many competing activities to distract potential garden aspirationalists. Whilst RHS membership may be growing that may reflect the hobby of observing not gardening.
Boost Your Patio Roses Now

Boost Your Patio Roses Now

Spring Booster For Pot Roses

  • My patio roses have been given some TenderLovingCare to set them up for flowering this summer.
  • TLC has involved checking over the pots and how they and the roses over wintered. Luckily there were no disaster or significant problems.
  • Pots were on the dry side, no bad thing through winter but now I will up the watering with dilute fertiliser.
  • The high growth had been trimmed in late autumn but now I undertook some careful pruning. Old and dead wood was cut out and the center of the rose was opened up to allow in air as they develop.
  • I took off the top 3 inches of soil and replaced it with a top dressing of John Innes and compost. I added a few slow release granules to each pot first.
  • Last year I covered the top of each pot with an inch of Strulch to suppress weeds and help watering. That worked so well I am repeating this mulch for this year. The old Strulch and top compost has gone on the heap.

Future Care and Boosting Plans

  • Black spot can be a problem on susceptable varieties so I will spray with a fungicide. Infected leaves will be taken off and dustbinned.
  • I will feed with a rose feed in may and a tomato feed after the first flush of flowers.
  • I am potentially over feeding as I hope to get some more cut flowers this year.
  • I also plan to buy another plant, or several, they are great value for money.

Pot Observations

  • My pots are a mishmash but I prefer those that are uniform terracotta pots.
  • Even in my glazed pots and two twelve inch square plastic efforts the patio roses produce masses of flowers annually.
  • Most pots contain roses over 5 years old and I do not re-pot them.
  • My favourite pots are 16 inch high ‘Long Toms’ that make a group of three. This grouping helps a micro-climate and a blowsy display.
  • The shortest pot in 9 inches high and I should have selected a miniature rose rather than a fully fledged patio variety. Several miniature roses are in my shallow soiled rockery.



Codiaeum-Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat Plant

Codiaeum-Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat Plant

Nine years ago I wrote about the coloured leaves of this houseplant. Now I have got interested in oil painting and this plant makes a dream of a subject for this week. This is what was published at the time and I recommend a later more detailed post. Read also about Croton the other name for Codiaeum,and related houseplants

‘You do not need flowers to produce colour in your houseplants. In addition to Begonia Rex and its relatives why not try growing some Codiaeum, an easy to maintain leafy plant.


Codiaeums are interesting foliage house plants also called Joseph’s Coat.

Codiaeum Cultivation Tips

  • This variety is called ‘Petra’ but you may also find ‘Eugene Drapps’ with long lance shaped leaves almost entirely yellow.
  • Keep plants moist and in good light with a temperature of at least 60-70° F.
  • Root 6 inch cuttings taken from the top of the plant at 70° with a bit of bottom heat.
  • Plants can be encouraged to branch by pinching out the growing tip.
  • Frequent feeding is needed except in winter when growth slows.
  • Large plants will have lots of roots so it may be worth potting up a size using loam based compost.
  • Red spider mite can be a problem with Codiaeums
  • Without good light but not full scorching sun the colouring will not be as strong and bottom leaves may be shed.’

Codiaeum Madiera

Look After Your Containers

Look After Your Containers

Routine Care

  • Neglect spoils many a display.
  • Water and feed remember containers are a constricted environment.
  • Good hygiene is important, remove debris, weeds and dying foliage.
  • Deadhead and consider cutting back a bit harder. Keep plants in good shape and prune topiary regularly
  • Remove plants that are not doing well or are finished
  • For permanent planting such as shrubs remove and replace the top inch or so of soil annually.

Seasonal Care

  • In hot weather consider shade and check water levels.
  • Spray leaves early in the morning to avoid scorching.
  • Prepare and make arrangements to look after pots if you are going on holiday.
  • In winter protect from plants and pots from frost damage. Move to safety and shelter.
  • Damp increases the risk of cracking from frost damage. Keep good drainage and keep on the dryside.
  • Plants in small pots are more vulnerable to problems.
  • Group pots together for mutual protection.
  • Reduce height of plant to avoid pots being blown over.
  • Use bubble wrap, hessian and fleece as needed for frost protection.

Pests & disease & General

  • Clean and disinfect pots before reuse.
  • Start with healthy plants.
  • Use fresh compost.
  • Regular care and maintenance including keeping on the lookout for problems
  • Position pots from wind or consider screening



Good Bad and Downright Ugly

Good Bad and Downright Ugly

Good & Bad Companions

Ash trees take lots and lots of goodness from the soil then die back or get turned into CO2 as firewood.

Never plant gladioli near peas beans or strawberries if you want them to thrive. Cabbages can kill off strawberries

Fuchsias appreciate shredded green bracken underneath their roots

Couch grass seldom grows around tomatoes, lupins or turnips.

Raddishes help stop maggots near cabbages

French marrigolds are well know for protecting from white fly

Good but Ugly Tips

Mulch with black polythene, old carpet or thick layers of cardboard.

An old dustbin with a chimney can be used to burn rubbish efficiently but it doesn’t look as good as a bonfire

Old labels and random canes and sticks as supports look untidy and at least in winter should be gathered in.

Lilies are fine plants but can be ravaged by the red lily beetle. Hostas can be ravaged by slugs and both look ugly

Garden Miscellany

Garden Miscellany

Useful supports in the greenhouse

Odd garden thoughts

  1. A weed is a plant that has no intention of growing in rows.
  2. Potato peelers and apple corers make  useful weeding tools. Also I like home made wooden wodgers and splodgers for compost compressing.
  3. I have  become a fan of raised beds for vegetables. The added benefit of less bending encourages me to give more effort to plants. If retaining with boards rather than blocks or sleepers pay attention to firm pegs.
  4. Consider reuse and repurpose for use in the garden including pop bottle, glass jars and old packaging. Even cardboard will compost with greenery to produce friable soil.
  5. After shredding the branches a Christmas tree trunk can be repurposed as a sturdy support or stake
  6. Thinnings of veg seedlings should be destroyed as the odour they give off attracts pests
  7. Put crushed egg shells under sweetpeas to increase the yield
  8. Pinch out plants that tend to grow long and spindly.


Bracken or Ferns for your Garden

Bracken or Ferns for your Garden

I have just returned from Ilkley Moor (and I wasn’t courting Mary Jane). I was tramping through shoulder high bracken that was thriving after the recent rain and the lack of competition at lower levels. Bracken are a  coarse fern noted for their large, highly divided leaves (ferns on the other hand only have two divisions per leaf to create the arching fronds).

Bracken spreads by means of underground roots that pop up new fronds and from spores. Living near the moor I have several uninvited clumps in the garden. This type of encroachment is damaging for farmers and allotments and one of several problems of bracken. It is poisonous to humans plus most animals and can be a host for ticks. So I think that answers the question and it should be hardy ferns for your garden!

Ferns for ‘where the sun seldom shines’ grow in 10,000 species of which only 50 are hardy in the UK. Species of different sizes, shapes and colours can be grown together. Give each enough space so the fronds do not overlap. Spleenworts or Asplenium are related to hartstongue ferns

Blueberry Growing My Best Tips

Blueberry Growing My Best Tips

It has taken 7 years to get a good crop of blueberries from my plants in a 12″ pot. See my earlier more detailed blueberry GTips from 2014. Now with the benefit of experience a good crop looks likely.  The yield has increased annually but for soft fruit and my blueberries in particular 2021 looks the best yet.

Three Best Tips

  1. Blueberries love a moist soil and plenty to drink. I put Strulch around the plants to retain moisture and water regularly. If using tap water rather than rain water I add some ericaceous feed.
  2. I planted two varieties in the same pot which helps fertilisation. One was a smaller weaker variety.
  3. The pot is now in a sunny sheltered position. The fruit grows on old and new wood  so I only trim rather than prune

Genome of a Garden Gnome

Genome of a Garden Gnome

Book Cover

I am not against garden gnomes, they can brighten up your mood and dark wintery days. From a gardeners view I offer the following comments.

  • Use gnomes for friends family and your own pleasure and amusement.
  • I don’t take gnomes too seriously and have just a couple to keep one another company.
  • Large families of gnomes seem better if you have the space.  The weeds of a gnomery are other frivolous ornaments and I stay clear of them particularly fairies, witches and elves.
  • You can name you gnome three times with a personal name, a clan name, and a nickname.  The picture is Mumple chops the fourth from the clan  gardenfoot with the nickname hortoris.
  • Keep your gnome clean and they will live in your garden without needing special fertiliser or pruning